Vietnamese food is nothing without the imprint of fish sauce (nuoc mam). The best Vietnamese fish sauce is delicately flavored and full of umami goodness. Believe it or not, good fish sauce can be enjoyed straight. Seriously.
You can make fish sauce from various kind of aquatic animals (shrimp, mackerel, or squid, for example). However, the best Vietnamese fish sauce comes from the island of Phu Quoc, where the waters are full of a particular kind of anchovy called ca com.
It’s hard to get nuoc mam from Phu Quoc abroad, though the Viet Huong (3 Crabs) brand combines Phu Quoc fish sauce with Thai fish sauce. Viet Huong has a whole line of fish sauce that you should check out.
Chinese-Vietnamese food writer Julie Wan went in search of the true Phu Quoc fish sauce for herself. She interviewed producers in Vietnam and last week, we chatted about the availability of the real deal outside of the motherland. Julie’s findings came out today in a Washington Post article. Her piece offers rich details on how fish sauce is made in Phu Quoc